If you are walking into a legal deposition, you should follow these helpful Do’s and Don’ts to ensure your testimony is well-represented.
Keep your answers short and concise.
Oftentimes, witnesses add in extra information, that’s not necessary or relevant to the question. This information can sometimes turn out to hurt the witness’ case. If you are asked your name, your answer should be “John Smith.” You should not say “My name is John Smith, I’m 24 years old, I live in Worcester, and I had oatmeal for breakfast.” Keep in mind that your own attorney can ask you questions after the other attorney has stopped, if he/she feels that there is some important testimony that should be put on the record.
If you don’t specifically recall something it is always better to say, “I don’t recall” and stop, rather than saying “Well I think that…”, and offering some possible response that you’re not sure of.
Don’t answer questions you don’t understand.
You always have the right to ask the questioner to repeat or rephrase a question if you’re not sure what was asked, or you simply don’t understand what the questioner said.
Don’t try to “outfox” the questioner.
Many witnesses, especially those not fully prepared, assume that they should try to beat the questioning attorney at their own game. They try to think several questions ahead and worry how their answer might harm their case. The end result is that a witness comes across sounding like they are lying or being evasive. Usually the information a witness is trying to omit comes out anyway- so don’t try to hide it! You are always better off answering the specific question directly and truthfully, rather than trying to give evasive or hostile responses.
Attorneys use depositions in civil cases as critical tools for establishing the facts and winning your case, either at trial or through settlement. At O’Connor and Ryan, our attorneys have extensive trial experience, and we’ve taken and defended thousands of depositions over the years.
We fully prepare and protect our clients in any deposition where they are the witness. In addition, we look at all potential witnesses that we should question in your case, and thoroughly question the opposing party, or third party witnesses, in depositions as well.
For more on Depositions, click here.